Abu Dhabi well placed to lead UAE’s long-term sustainability charge

The country is committed to a greener future to advance economic prosperity

Emirates Water and Electricity Company is developing a 2-gigawatt solar power plant in the Abu Dhabi desert with Taqa, Masdar, France's EDF and JinkoPower. Wam
Powered by automated translation

The UAE’s economic transformation is coming to fruition through collaborative action and innovative solutions, with the country’s energy sector at the heart of it.

The sector continues to drive progress, helping to ensure that the Emirates is home to a sustainable landscape.

The country has showcased its rapid transformation to the region and the wider world by being at the forefront of endorsing the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change issues and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The prominent role played by the UAE in climate change initiatives at the Conference of the Parties (Cop26) proved that the country is ready to be an active player in the global progress. With Cop27 around the corner, and Cop28 to be held in the UAE in 2023, the UAE is committed to sustainability to advance economic prosperity.

The pledge is supported by Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030, a long-term plan that plays a key role in the emirate’s continuing transformation and favourable outlook. This has been developed in close co-ordination with the General Secretariat of the Executive Council and Department of Economic Development.

The vision highlights integration between the three pillars of sustainability — environmental, economic and social. It also inspires natural heritage preservation and enhancement.

Resources are being utilised more efficiently than ever before, minimising climate change impact, driving a reduction in air and noise pollution, conserving water resources and contributing to a better quality of life for all.

In support of the UAE’s sustainability goals, Emirates Water and Electricity Company (Ewec) is increasing its investments in top-notch, low carbon innovations. These are focused on solar power and reverse osmosis water desalination technologies, which will ultimately lead to a reduction in carbon emissions from our fleet of 50 per cent by 2025.

Ewec’s investments are aligned with the company’s strategic objectives to produce more than 50 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s energy needs from renewable and clean energy sources by 2030.

We are working on diversifying and growing our portfolio of renewable and clean energy projects, including three leading solar power plants. Noor Abu Dhabi, which produces approximately 1.2 gigawatts of power and began commercial operations in 2019; Al Dhafra Solar PV, which is currently under construction and will be the new world’s largest single-site solar power plant, producing 2 gigawatts of power; and Al Ajban Solar PV, which is under development and will be similar in size to Al Dhafra Solar PV.

This will make Abu Dhabi home to three of the largest single-site solar power plants in the world.

Ewec is also significantly increasing investment in low-carbon intensive reverse osmosis (RO) technology as part of our strategic plan to decouple water and power production. Our projects based on this technology will support Abu Dhabi and the UAE in achieving its sustainability and carbon neutrality goals.

In addition, we have partnered with Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre (Tadweer) on a new Waste-to-Energy (WtE) plant, to support the UAE’s circular economy.

One of the region’s largest WtE facilities, the plant has an expected processing capacity of 900,000 tonnes of waste, annually generating electricity to power up to 52,500 households. The plant will divert 75 per cent of waste away from landfill, reducing carbon emissions by 1.1 million tonnes.

WtE projects support sustainability efforts at the national level. Converting waste to energy drastically reduces landfill waste which, in turn, can help combat climate change by curbing greenhouse gas emissions. While excess waste is recycled, valuable resources are also recovered to be reused.

With these outcomes in mind, our WtE plant represents a win-win solution for the environment, the population, and the UAE overall — consolidating Abu Dhabi’s sustainability leadership at the regional and international level.

Abu Dhabi is moving ever closer to its transition objectives, preparing the nation for future generations as envisaged by the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.

For Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE, the environmental landscape has never been more vibrant for innovative green solutions. Looking ahead, Ewec will continue to develop world-leading utility projects that support Abu Dhabi’s and the nations goals.

Othman Al Ali is chief executive of Emirates Water and Electricity Company

Updated: September 25, 2022, 5:30 AM